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SAFE-T Summit 2019 – a day of global equity and teamwork in anaesthesia and surgical care

Following the success of our inaugural SAFE-T Summit in 2018, the WFSA and the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) co-hosted the second SAFE-T Summit on 5th April 2019 with a focus on perioperative safety through equity, ethics, gender, diversity and social strategies.

Edna Adan Ismail from Somaliland gave the keynote speech

Our Summit began with a keynote presentation from Somaliland’s Edna Adan Ismail, who spoke about her incredible work including building her own hospital, training over 1,000 midwives and building partnerships to bring anaesthesia equipment to the hospital. She spoke about the importance of skills, equipment, discipline, workforce and infrastructure on the provision of safe anaesthesia and safe surgery in Somaliland. 

Edna Adan Ismail shows the standard of healthcare facilities in Somaliland which inspired her to build the Edna Adan Hospital

The Summit’s first session followed Edna’s keynote presentation, and was focused on inequity in access to perioperative and anaesthesia care and safety. In this session, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetist Professor Ravi Mahajan spoke on gender equity and patient safety culture as well as how our unconscious bias can perpetuate gender inequality. Dr Janet Martin, MEDICI Centre (a WHO Collaborating Centre), Western University, Canada, then spoke on anaesthesia-related and perioperative mortality and highlighted that 4.2 million people die worldwide within 30 days of surgery. Dr Paloma Toledo, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, then presented, drawing our attention to the statistic that worldwide one woman dies from complications of childbirth every minute, and discussed strategies to reduce healthcare disparities. The European Society of Anaesthesiology’s President, Professor Stefan de Hert, concluded the session with a talk on the climate of equity, and shared the data from the ESA survey on gender distribution and diversity. 

Session one finished with a panel discussion, Chaired by Immediate Past President of the WFSA, Dr Gonzalo Barreiro

Dr Jackie Rowles, President of The International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists, and Ms Tracy Coates, Group Head of Clinical Services, Theatres POA Endoscopy and Sterile Services at Spire Healthcare spoke in our second session on the role of nursing in perioperative safety. Dr Rowles spoke about how the global shortage of trained anaesthesia providers means that there are not enough nurse anaesthetists to meet the demand for services, and how there needs to be cooperation within a team, and a focus on the patients’ needs and rights. Ms Coates then spoke about the need to maintain care and compassion for patients as well as each other, and the importance of a good working environment.

ession two’s panel discussion, chaired by WFSA Board members Dr Philippe Mavoungou and Dr Daniela Filipescu

Following lunch, the third session on gender gaps and considerations in anaesthesia and perioperative safety, got underway with presentations from Dr Carolina Haylock-Loor, Chair of the WFSA Gender Balance Committee, Dr Kathleen Ferguson (President of the Association of Anaesthetists) and WFSA President Dr Jannicke Mellin-Olsen. 

WFSA President Dr Jannicke Mellin-Olsen spoke about her incredible professional life during our third session

Dr Haylock-Loor spoke about how, if we correct gender inequalities, society as a whole benefits. Dr Jannicke Mellin-Olsen then spoke about her career from training in Norway to her time with the UN and as Medical Director of MedAir Europe and shared with us her experiences of often being the only female in a team, and what she had learnt from them. Dr Kathleen Ferguson presented a talk on gender in the NHS and breaking the glass ceiling in professional advancement, and the following all-female panel discussed how they faced these challenges.

For our fourth and final session, ‘Working together: Teamwork and advocacy in addressing the safety gap’, we heard about the refugee crisis in Europe from a doctor’s perspective from Dr Marily Passakiotou, Chair of the Working Group for the Refugee Crisis, CPME. Dr Andrew Hartle then presented some stark statistics that 52% of LGBT people experience depression, and that one in eight LGBT people aged between 18 and 24 have attempted to take their own life. One in eight LGBT people (13%) experience some form of unequal treatment from healthcare staff because they are LGBT, and almost one in four LBGT people witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT people by healthcare staff. Dr Hartle also shared the statistic that one in seven LGBT people avoided treatment for fear of discrimination because they are LBGT.

WFSA President along with members of the WFSA Council

Dr Sally El-Ghazali, Chair of the Association of Anaesthetists Trainee Committee, then presented on the situation among trainee doctors in the UK, and recent research conducted by the Association of Anaesthetists on the effects of fatigue on trainees in the UK which gained attention after the tragic death of an anaesthetic trainee who fell asleep at the wheel of a car following a nightshift. The WFSA’s Director of Partnerships Dr Berend Mets spoke about the need for calm communications in adverse and stressful situations, presenting and discussing research on this topic. The final presentation in our fourth session was from Dr Nicole Phillips, who joined us from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. Dr Phillips spoke about how professional bodies can promote gender equity, as well as the difference between gender equality and equity.

The panel in our final session answer questions on implicit bias, quotas, and the difference between changing the law and changing attitudes

Dr Alan Merry, WFSA’s Treasurer, and Dr Berend Mets, WFSA’s Director of Partnerships, were the convenors of this SAFE-T Summit. Dr Alan Merry said “the Safe-T Summit on Equity in Global Healthcare brought together a varied group of outstanding speakers whose presentations underscored the importance of this subject, and stimulated useful discussion on ways to improve all aspects of equity for the benefit of our patients and ourselves.” Dr Berend Mets said “this Second SAFE-T Summit was a great success in bringing together poignant life-stories and pertinent fact’s informing the central message of the Summit: the promotion of Global Equity and Diversity in Healthcare.”

Without our outstanding speakers this event would not have been the success which it was, and the WFSA thanks all speakers for their time. We would also like to thank our sponsors, Diamedica, Sintetica, SmileTrain, Lifebox, the Association of Anaesthetists, and of course our headline sponsor Masimo. 

We would also like to thank our co-hosts the RSM, who helped enormously in the run-up to the Summit and on the day.